Update Time! Where Are They Now?

Update Time! Where Are They Now? November 19, 2015

While writing about Ben Carson’s dishonesty, I realized that it’s been a while since I checked in on the various Christians I’ve discussed here, either on their own or as part of my series about the Cult of “Before” Stories. I thought it’d be fun to see how they’re doing nowadays. Let’s check in on a few of them!

KITTENS MUST HAVE MORE KITTENS. These are actually vintage kittens from the Boston Public Library's Flickr feed--and if you're not following this feed, I don't know what's holding you back other than, perhaps, not using Flickr, I suppose. (Credit: Boston Public Library, CC license.
KITTENS MUST HAVE MORE KITTENS. These vintage kittens hail from the Boston Public Library‘s Flickr feed–and if you’re not following this feed, I don’t know what’s holding you back. It’s filled with all kinds of things that make bibliophiles quiver. (Credit: Boston Public Library, CC license.)

Tony Anthony is Still Faking the Tiger.

Tony Anthony is the disgraced evangelist whose biography, Taming the Tiger, turned out to be 99% lies. He claimed he was a half-Chinese kid (haha no) who was taken to China (haha no) as a young boy by his Chinese kung-fu grampa (haha no) and raised there by a kung-fu organization of some kind (which doesn’t actually exist) that trained and employed him as a bodyguard and assassin (OMG he wishes). He claimed that he’d protected diplomats and Middle Eastern sheikhs (haha no) before ending up in a really awful-sounding foreign prison (maybe, but probably not for what he claims), where he had his major turnaround conversion experience (haha no)–and from there became an evangelist (unfortunately this bit’s absolutely true). Christians, especially evangelicals, ate his story up with a spoon, but actual martial artists were a lot more dubious of his claims–since most of those claims came straight from old Kung Fu movies, books, and TV shows–or were cribbed from Bruce Lee’s biography. He had no real knowledge of the Chinese language or of martial arts and had never actually lived in China, nor was he  even the ethnicity or age he claimed to be.

When Tony Anthony was exposed, he furiously denounced the divisive haters (which is Christianese that you may mentally translate thusly: the mean ole meaniepies) who he claimed were just trying to impede his very very important work, which is actually true because his very very important work is apparently grifting overly-trusting fundagelicals. One of his recent lies-for-Jesus was a claim that Christianity Today revealed about him giving a very successful evangelical revival sermon last year at a college group in London called Christian Union, though the group quickly distanced itself from him by saying they had no record of the supposed event he described and had never worked with him. After the lie was exposed, Mr. Anthony backpedaled with all his might, but this is just one more bit of evidence that he’s still a “devious and manipulative man,” as the judge put it in his hit-and-run case.

He is now republishing his testimonial book that has been categorically debunked nine ways from Sunday, thanks to a publisher who is on record as stating that it’s okay to exaggerate and distort the truth if it converts people. Both the publisher and Mr. Anthony claim that they’ve corrected some details that were off. However, it’s largely the same book. I suppose evangelicals only worry about making their peers stumble if it’s a woman doing something unapproved.

Mr. Anthony is trying his darndest to make a comeback attempt. He made some noise trying to save face about how he moved out of the public eye because he wanted to protect his children from the mean ole meaniepie media, but apparently he’s not as worried about that anymore. Even grifters need to pay their bills, I suppose.

Luckily, Christians themselves are policing this one. Most of the pushback I’m seeing about him is coming from Christian sources. It’s quite a refreshing change.

Matt Pitt is Staying on the Down-Low.

Matt Pitt was a youth pastor we talked about a couple years ago who had a huge dramatic public meltdown. He’d been hugely influential and powerful, starting a ministry called “The Basement” (because it began in his parents’ basement!) after getting “saved” from drug addictions and whatnot; he drew thousands of teenagers to sermons utilizing all the best new toys of youth ministry: fog machines, hip clothes, and lots and lots of rah-rah. The sermons were standard-issue fundagelical misogyny, with lots of body-shaming, willful ignorance, and sexism-as-the-bonus-plan, but teenagers inexplicably adored him and their parents mistakenly trusted him.

He got caught impersonating a police officer and there was some serious weirdness involved with him and guns too. While he was in jail, he bravely and valiantly evangelized the felons in the cells with him by advising them that tons of hot girls attended his church, which–given his status as a youth pastor–must have warmed the cockles of those girls’ parents’ hearts.

Matt Pitt ended up getting acquitted of the charges of impersonating police officers. Like the other folks on the list today, he’s been keeping himself out of the public eye, but he’s still listed on his ministry website as one of its “artists” (is fleecing gullible sheep more of an art or a science? I’ll leave that one up to the philosophers). But the site hasn’t been updated since last November, when it talked up a big conference he was doing this past January. He’s a little more active on Facebook, but like a lot of evangelicals appears to be more worried about exporting his failed message to other countries.

BTW, you’ll notice that on his Basement bio page, he has the requisite liar-for-Jesus super-dramatic testimony. It’s totally okay though because, as their tagline says, they’re “not perfect, just forgiven.” On his Facebook page you’ll notice none other than Joshua Feuerstein (you remember, the weirdo in the backwards-facing red baseball cap who didn’t understand burden of proof, which he demonstrated by means of a harebrained dare to atheists to disprove his supernatural claims?) showing up with a hearty congratulations on Mr. Pitt’s acquittal.

I couldn’t find any word about whether or not Matt Pitt still thinks that offering teenage girls’ bodies as door prizes to criminals is an awesome idea.

Kim Davis and Her Friends Are Still Horrible.

Not much seems to be going on for Kim Davis herself. She filed some kind of appeal about her court order that is still working its way through the system. Voters are divided over whether or not to forcibly remove her from office. The lady who sits next to her at work is probably just relieved that now she can drink her Mountain Dews in peace.

Her lawyers, the laughable Liberty Counsel, are busy with their self-created, self-fueled annual War on Christians Christmas, in service to which they have released a “friend or foe” list (not an exaggeration; that’s what they seriously call it) which details various businesses they think are or aren’t pandering suitably well to fundagelical consumers.

Justice Scalia apparently said some really weird and awful things about how Obergefell might be non-binding upon civil servants like Kim Davis, but that piece did very quickly move on to say that the comments might be relayed out of context and were certainly off the record. This story might or might not actually be totally accurate, but you might hear about it on social media so I’m heads-upping you now.

Randy Smith, one of the pastors who organized rallies to support the bigot-for-Jesus, has decided that he now knows everything anybody needs to know in order to serve the public in a legislative capacity and is planning to run for state office now. Enjoy the photo on that link–that’s quite the accidental Heil Hitler salute he’s got going there. He’s prepping for his future grifting by claiming in advance that if he wins despite the odds stacked against him, that will obviously constitute PROOF YES PROOF of “a miracle from God.” If Kentucky voters swat him on the ass so hard his head swims, though, obviously that will not be refutation of miracles or his god. Don’t even ask; you and I both know you already knew the answer to that one.

There’s a hell of a bright spot here though: the band Survivor is officially suing Mike Huckabee for swiping their song, “Eye of the Tiger,” without permission. (They have also sued Newt Gingrich for swiping the same song, it seems.) And the governor of Kentucky (Democrat Steve Beshear) is solidly insistent that Kim Davis do her goddamned job already.

The Duggars Have Both Old and New Troubles.

I wasn’t sure it was even possible to have a worse fall from grace than what we saw out of Josh Duggar. Almost worse, Christians rushed to his defense and rationalized his crimes–though once he got discovered cheating on his wife this past August and September, most of those supporters vanished into the mist.

While Josh’s wife moved back home with her parents and their house got sold, he ended up enrolling in a fake-rehab center where he’d pray extra-lots and do forced labor to heal him of his sexual sin. The clan is 100% confident that doing that again will work this time to finally totally “break” him, which is a Christianese concept that we’ll talk about at some point soon. (They do so enjoy seeing things break: babies’ wills, girls’ independence, Josh Duggar’s creepiness.)

In mid-October, his mother Michelle made a bizarre video offering advice for new wives in which she told women to always be “joyfully available” to their husbands for their sexual use no matter how tired, overworked, and rightfully filled with blazing resentment they might feel. It was ostensibly advice she was offering her own daughter Jill, who had recently been turned down for funding by the Southern Baptists for some fake missionary trip she wanted to do.

Given that the Duggars’ religious cult demands that women and children smile no matter how they really feel or else they’re in rebellion and must be punished, that Michelle’s son Josh had molested all those little girls who’d followed all the rules, and that Josh himself had been unfaithful to his wife despite her clearly having been a properly obedient and smiling RealDoll (link is totally NSFW–you have been warned), this advice to always be “joyfully available” for a husband’s sexual use sounded doubly grotesque. And if you’re wondering if Josh Duggar’s wife Anna saw that condescending, passive-aggressive nattering disguised as advice and got absolutely furious about the implication that she had somehow caused or provoked Josh’s infidelity, wonder no more: she was apparently fucking infuriated. The swirling rumors of looming divorce began to solidify.

Also in mid-October, Law and Order: Special Victims Unit put out an episode about a patriarchal family with a reality-TV show in which a 13-year-old daughter turns up pregnant, which I’m sure ground some gears over at Casa Duggar!

Then in late October five women brought a lawsuit against the Gothard-run Institute in Basic Life Principles. The Duggars used to be thicker than thieves with Bill Gothard and his consent-obliterating, puerile, sex-obsessed, beyond-misogynistic teachings inform their entire parenting and relationship philosophies. The lawsuit alleges that the people running the group’s seminar business had covered up rampant sex abuse against the young women and girls attending its programs, which I’m sure will totally shock everyone.

By the month’s end, Josh Duggar was still farting around in rehab–and was very worried about his marriage. When his own pleading with Anna didn’t appear to be swaying her, he enlisted his parents’ help to mollify his wife. Hey, they were always able to make everything better before! (Can you even imagine being a full-grown man begging your parents to smooth over your marital squabbles?!?) Jim Bob’s solution was to offer to buy Anna and Josh a big house of their own–a bribe that Anna refused, saying she wouldn’t be bought by people who seemed a little more worried about what a divorce would do to their squeaky-clean image than they were about her as a person (hey, at least she figured it out eventually; some of those poor patriarchy-raised women never do). Anna began losing a ton of weight–probably from unholy amounts of stress–but I think she’s got a good shot at escaping the Duggar/Quiverfull/Patriarchy nightmare.

The rest of the Duggars have been distancing themselves from Josh. When someone mocked him at some award show, one Duggar cousin laughed “hysterically” about it. His siblings are either ignoring him or speaking poorly of him. One can hardly blame them: Josh Duggar is seriously impacting his family’s income at this point.

Though as recently as the 12th Josh was reported to be still at his fake-rehab place, that night Jim Bob Duggar showed up in that fake-rehab place’s town in a small private plane that looked just like the one that’d taken Josh to the fake-rehab place earlier. After a few hours, the plane picked up its passengers and left again for Arkansas. That jaunt appears to be a temporary thing for the holidays as the family insists he’s still officially in fake-rehab. He won’t be enjoying his time back at the family home much, though; one of the women he cheated on his wife with has just sued him for sexual battery because it turns out that Josh allegedly likes roughing women up in bed with perhaps somewhat less than their full enthusiastic consent to his ministrations. Between that lawsuit and his wife on the verge of divorcing his slimy ass, I can’t imagine it’ll be a joyeux noel for lil Joshie.

In other news, Duggar daughter Jessa just had a baby, which the happy parents seem to have named Spurgeon (they didn’t go with Pubert as a middle name, alas). Gawker says that the baby’s name comes from a very famous evangelical preacher, Charles Spurgeon, but they’re nicknaming him Quincy. It seems that Jessa wanted to name the tot after one of the “heroes of the Christian faith.” It sounded like a hell of a weird choice until I read that apparently Spurgeon’s wife called him “Tirshatha” which that site says means “Your Excellency” in some Middle Eastern language, and we know that references to anything Middle Eastern is to extremist fundagelicals sporting Jerusalem boners what variants of the name “Brayden” are to white Millennial parents. They can’t even have a kid without Jesus-juking the situation. I hope little Quincy’s schoolmates–if he ever gets any–never figure out what his real name is, and all mockery of the parents aside, I’m glad that he arrived safely and that everyone’s okay because it sounded like a really rough delivery. I wouldn’t wish that on anybody.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this very special episode of Roll to Disbelieve. I’ve got the “Light and Salt” discussion up next on Saturday, and we’ll be talking about rewards systems and opportunity costs next week. Seriously: how could anybody run out of stuff to talk about around here?

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